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What is Pokémon Go? All you need to know about the global hit mobile game

Photos logoPhotos 7/14/2016

The new game Pokémon Go, developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices, has sparked a frenzy among users and has become the most popular game in the U.S. We look at how and why it has become such a rage within a week of its release.

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What is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game combining real-world and virtual elements. It makes use of a mobile phone's global positioning system (GPS) and clock to decide which Pokémon appears on screen — for instance, in a park, users will see grass and an insect-type Pokémon and at night, they will be greeted with nocturnal ghosts and fairy types. The game, as its slogan "Gotta catch 'em all" suggests, requires gamers to catch all the Pokémon they spot on the screen. Officially launched by Niantic and Nintendo on July 5, 2016, the game encompasses Tajiri's original idea of encouraging kids to realize the world around them.

Japanese game developer Satoshi Tajiri created Pokémon in 1996 on Game Boy and, 20 years later, with more than 279 million units in sale the franchise is once again looking to forge another cultural revolution with the launch of the latest edition of the game.

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How to play Pokémon Go? 

Pokémon Go involves three things — catching Pokémon, visiting Pokéstops and gym battles. Pokémon's official website explains, “As you move around, your smartphone will vibrate to let you know you’re near a Pokémon. Once you’ve encountered a Pokémon, take aim on your smartphone’s touch screen and throw a Poké Ball to catch it. Be careful when you try to catch it, or it might run away!”

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You will see a map based on the actual real-world map of the streets and landmarks around you. These maps help find the locations of nearby Pokémon, Pokéstop and Gyms.

As you encounter a Pokémon, the one already in your Pokédex will appear in color, while those outside will appear as dark silhouettes. Currently, there are only 150 Pokémon available and the company is planning to launch another 570 with the release of Pokémon X/Y.

Then there are the Pokéstops, which allow you to collect balls and other items. Pokéstops appear on your map as blue squares and are usually located at interesting places such as public art, installations and markets. Each capture will earn you Experience Points (XP) which will help increase the level of your on-screen avatar, the Trainer. Based on the number of Pokémon the user captures and the distance he/she travels, achievements and medals are unlocked which appear on the user's profile.

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Impact/Interesting facts 

The word Pokémon is short for "Pocket monsters." As of July 11, 2016, the game had registered an estimated 7.5 million downloads in the United States alone. It has been downloaded more in a week than Tinder, the dating app, has in the last four years of its existence. The game is currently present on five per cent of total smartphones in the United States and so far has attracted more users than Twitter. It has also become the "most-used app per day" within nine days of its existence and left behind popular apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Snapchat.

The game is also a commercial success, making $1.6 million per day merely from its iOS sales in the U.S. alone and its massive popularity has led to an increase of 50 per cent in Nintendo's shares.

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Availability

As of July 14, 2016 the game was available across Australia, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. There is a dedicated website which lets people know if the game is available in their country or not. The website even gives an option of subscribing to a notification which will send an alert in your mailbox when the game is officially launched in your country.

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